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This is the story of the birth of modern chess – when the possibilities of chess as an art, a science and a sport all converged.
The point of convergence was a young boy from Louisiana named Paul Morphy. At a time when America was seen as a backwoods nation with little cultural history and even less intellectual impetus, at a time when chess was considered the exclusive property of a few European countries, at a time when the game was played successfully by a handful of men wizened by years, Paul Morphy, in the brief span of 19 months and with seemingly little effort, defeated conclusively every player he met.
While today few non chess players even know his name, he was one of the most famous celebrities of his time and within the hallowed halls of the chess playing community he is considered by some as the greatest chess player of all time.
But this diminutive, unassuming boy rose to fame almost out of nowhere and once he secured his place in history, he retired back into that hazy unknown, shunning the public eye, never again to play serious chess. Not only was he one of great practitioners of the game, but also one of it’s greatest enigmas. He’s been given the sobriquet, The Pride and Sorrow of Chess.
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Paul Morphy vs Louis Paulsen
1st American Chess Congress (1857), New York, NY USA, rd 4, Nov-02
Sicilian Defense: Paulsen-Basman Defense (B40)
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cd4 4. Nd4 Bc5 5. Be3 Qb6 6. Nb5 Nf6 7. Bc5 Qc5 8. Nd6 Ke7 9. Nc8 Rc8 10. Bd3 Nc6 11. O-O h5 12. Nd2 h4 13. h3 g5 14. a3 Rg8 15. b4 Qb6 16. Nc4 Qc7 17. f3 Ne5 18. Ne5 Qe5 19. Qd2 Rg7 20. Rad1 Rd8 21. Qf2 b6 22. f4 gf4 23. Qf4 Qg5 24. Rf2 Qf4 25. Rf4 Rdg8 26. Rd2 Rh8 27. e5 Nd5 28. Rd4 f6 29. ef6 Nf6 30. Rc4 Kd8 31. a4 Nd5 32. Be4 Nc7 33. Bf3 d5 34. Rc6 Rd7 35. Bg4 Rh6 36. Re2 Ke7 37. Kh2 Kf7 38. g3 hg3 39. Kg3 Re7 40. h4 Ne8 41. h5 Nf6 42. Rce6 Re6 43. Be6 Kg7 44. Bg4 Nh5 45. Bh5 Rh5 46. Re7 Kf6 47. Ra7 Ke5 48. Ra6 Rg5 49. Kf3 Rf5 50. Ke2 b5 51. ab5 Rf4 52. c3 d4 53. c4 Rh4 54. c5 Rh2 55. Kd3 Rh3 56. Kc2 Rh2 57. Kb3 Rh3 58. Ka4 Kd5 59. Rd6 Kc4 60. c6 Rh1 61. Rd4 Kd4 62. c7 Rh8 63. b6 Kc4 64. b7
Materials used in research:
Paul Morphy: Pride and Sorrow of Chess by David Lawson
The Genious Of Paul Morphy by Chris Ward
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